just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Monday, February 27, 2006

Too Much Talk

I find myself being drawn into silence. Not a silence of of protest or seething, but the silence of the cross. Fr. Thomas Hopko says that when God fully discloses himself, the ultmate Word that is spoken from the cross is silence. That silence speaks to our silence. The most eloquent Word ever spoken is spoken in silence. You just look at him there hanging in silence. What we have to do in order to hear the Word that is spoken from the cross, is also to stand before it in silence.

I believe this is a prompting of the Holy Spirit. Far too infrequently, do I live and move and have my being from the center of holy silence that is found in relationship with God. It is a holy silence that recognizes that God is beyond words. Yet so many times we jump into that holy space and (like Peter on the mount of Transfiguration) try to fill it with words, or something tangible, visible, measurable. I hear so much talk about Christians who have God all figured out, who have written books, who have spoken all over the world, who are funny, entertaining, and annointed. They come to speak at churches near you. I think the thing that disquiets my spirit is the sense of self-importance and self-promotion that flies in the face of the deeper expression of Christ that we see from the cross.

I grow tired of all the talk. I would rather hear the silence that comes from holy awe and humble gratitude for the mercy of God.

"By this time it was noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the thick veil hanging in the Temple was torn apart. Then Jesus shouted, "Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands! And with these words he breathed his last." Luke 23:44-46

Following Jesus means being willing to follow him to the cross. True joy is only found through the cross, as we walk it in our lives. There are many who have been examples for me of living and walking in this way before the cross of Jesus. Dave Nixon is among them. Dave is known to take a week out of his schedule to go to the Abbey of Gethsemani for retreat. Dave was with SMC last summer at Black Rock.

May the words I speak (and write), be words of life. And they will only be words of life if they come out of the silence of the cross. May I give myself more fully to this work of a lifetime: searching, learning, discovering the meaning of mercy. May I use all the tools at my disposal--prayer, work, study, community, silence, hospitality, love.

“What do you seek, my brother?”

The abbot’s question to the candidate for monastic commitment reaches and probes the depths of the soul. “The mercy of God and of the Order,” the newcomer responds. And so begins the work of a lifetime: searching, learning, discovering the meaning of mercy which transforms the heart of the monk into the Lord’s own image.

The tools of the contemplative’s craft are simple: prayer, work, study, community, silence, hospitality, love. Getting started and keeping at the tasks are graces only God can give. The monk recognizes this gift and strives to open to it generously, for he has met Jesus in his life. His mission, his service in the Church and the world is to follow Christ more closely and to find God at the center of life.

The workshop, the arena, where the monk immerses himself in the search for mercy is the enclosure of the monastery. When a person commits to this great venture of Christian discipleship, he finds the holy is revealed in the ordinary, the everyday, the authentic.

“Every day I say to myself – today I will begin.” – St. Anthony of the Desert

Friday, February 24, 2006

Prayer for Peace

In scanning the paper today, two stories in particular caught my attention. One was a short news report on the ongoing tensions and violence between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. The other was the lead story on the front page about the civil war that is brewing in Iraq.

Wars are currently being fought in Afghanistan, Burundi, Chechnya, Colombia, Congo, India and Pakistan (over Kashmir), Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Kosovo (Yugoslavia), Lebanon, Macedonia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda.

We thank You, Master and Lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. We appeal to You to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hatred for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war. Grant peace to your servants. Implant in them the fear of You and confirm in them love one for another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For You are our peace and to You we ascribe glory: to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

We pray, Lord our God, for all those who suffer from acts of war, especially for the victims and all those in the struggle in Iraq and Nigeria.

We pray for your peace and your mercy in the midst of the great suffering that people are now inflicting on each other. Accept the prayers of your Church, so that by your goodness peace may return to all peoples. Hear us and have mercy on us.

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

Lord our God, remember and have mercy on our brothers and sisters who are involved in every civil conflict. Remove from their midst all hostility, confusion and hatred. Lead everyone along the path of reconciliation and peace, we pray You, hear us and have mercy on us.

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

Let all believers turn aside from violence and do what makes for peace. By the strength of your mighty arm save your people and your Holy Church from all evil oppression; hear the supplications of all who call to You in sorrow and affliction, day and night. Merciful God, let their lives not be lost, we pray You, hear us and have mercy.

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

But grant, O Lord, peace, love and speedy reconciliation to your people whom You have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence known to those who have turned away from You and do not seek You, so that none of them may be lost, but all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so that everyone, in true love and harmony, O long-suffering Lord, may praise your all holy Name.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Questions about Sharing Time

From time to time I have had questions about the appropriateness of sharing time for a Sunday morning worship time. Arthur Paul Boers writes an excellent piece in The Mennonite this week in which he raises many of my questions and concerns. I especially resonate with the point he makes about the content of our sharing:

The number one prayer request is for medical ailments, usually someone beyond the congregation and often explained in needlessly graphic and explicit detail. Why do we mostly pray for health problems? And why so many requests about people that much of the congregation does not even know?

I do see that even if we share about the health problems or situations about people that most of the congregation doesn't know, the person sharing knows them and feels directly impacted by the situation being prayed for. So in this sense we are also caring for the person sharing the prayer concern by upholding the person that they have brought to our attention.

Anyway, I really recommend the article. I think it offers some helpful observations at how we should be discerning in what is shared in the context of public worship. One of the ways we have sought to broaden the focus of our prayers that follow sharing time is by using a grid that guides the leader who is voicing a prayer after sharing time for the Church and the World. Some of the focus areas under which we offer more specific prayers include: Governments and leaders locally, nationally and globally, the Church in various areas of the world and the countries in that area, those whom we support in mission, local churches, Lancaster district churches and Lancaster Mennonite Conference, various other ministries such as Arbor Place and Friendship Community, specific ministries and leaders within our congregation, Life Groups, specific age groups in our congregation, and then specific requests that have been expressed. This rule of corporate prayer is to help keep us from getting to inward or narrow in the focus of our congregational prayer. This time of prayer is also very much guided by various Scriptural injunctions that call us to offer prayers for various things.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Prayer for today

Heavenly Father, in you I live and have my being:
I humbly pray you so to guide and govern me by your
Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations in my
life I may not forget you, but may remember that I am
ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ my Lord.

What a beautiful picture of Machu Picchu. I was in Cusco two times on administrative trips for Eastern Mennonite Missions. However, there was just not enough time to make the trek up to the Incan ruins. Someday, I hope to visit.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Senior year

Had a quick family getaway overnight to Baltimore and the National Aquarium.

Signs of traffic on the church website.

And yes CL, how could I ignore mentioning my senior year at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School. :) Why did I just randomly insert the Mexico and Oklahoma pieces of my story into this blog? I don't know, maybe it is the amazing way that the internet has made the world smaller and more accessable. It's like my father-in-law said at Christmas..."geography is dead."

One of the main things that played into my decision of moving back to Pennsylvania (from Oklahoma) for my senior year was the prospect of playing basketball at a smaller school. My Uncle Tim was the boys coach back then. We had a pretty successful year winning District 1 and going to the second round of states.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Saint Patrick's Breastplate

I came across an awesome new song based on the prayer, Saint Patricks Breastplate. If you have Quick Time already downloaded onto your computer, you should be able to click on the first link in that last sentence and listen to the song. Martin Reardon wrote the song. He is a worship leader at Trinity Vineyard, which Matt and Margo (Heather's sister) are a part of in Atlanta.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mexico and Oklahoma

I was born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa.

I went to Jenks Public Schools from 4th grade until 11th grade.

While living in Tulsa, I played soccer for the Boomers club team of the GCSA.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

SMC website

So I am finally getting around to working on the website for SMC. This is an experiment in another layer of communal identity and interaction. Will we own this space as part of our congregational life? That is the question.

Perhaps, for some the internet is not helpful layer of community life and conversation. It certainly should not replace face to face presence. Perhaps it could serve as a builder of community, enhancing our journey together by providing another forum for interaction. I am a bit skeptical of its merits in terms of drawing others into our fellowship. Perhaps, but I believe more in face to face relationship as connection points to community.

Here are two websites that give us a web presence. This one is put out by MCUSA through www.mennonite.net and we had nothing to do with it's content or design.

The other one is under construction, but you can visit and make use of for at least 27 more days (free trial period).

This is an experiment. So I will be looking for data from the SMC community to determine whether or not this is a worthwhile investment (about $20/month).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Winter Returns

We got about 11 inches of snow from yesterday into this morning. Sunday morning worship service was cancelled. We had some fun in the snow and just relaxing. Life Group leaders meeting tonight, looking forward to further processing of the discussion on January 29, and trying to give shape to a proposal out of that conversation.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Holy Spirit, come to us.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God's holy name.
Bless the Lord, my soul, who leads me into life.

The Lord is my light, my light and
salvation, in God I trust, in God I trust.

Wait for the Lord, whose day is near.
Wait for the Lord, keep watch, take heart!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Prayer of Jabez

There is a wonderful piece in the latest issue of Sojourners--The Prayer of Jabez falls short in Africa, by David Batstone.

This is a helpful piece that offers gracious correction of a theology prevelant in Christianity, particularly in North America (Wilkenson's book was just one small piece of perpetuating this type of theology). It is a Christianity that operates with the lens that God answers prayer when I see the material results and/or blessings. And when I don't see the results and/or blessings, somehow that is problematic. Something must be wrong. Well, yes. Something IS wrong, but we must have a long-term view of what is wrong. A view that extents beyond my individual situation. It is short-sighted to only see God's activity and purpuses coming in response to individual situations. It is not wrong to pray for God to act in individual situations, but our view of God must also see the larger scheme of human problems as God's heartfelt concern as well. The Biblical language that so vividly addresses this larger context of God's redemptive, healing action is found in Romans 8.

For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God's curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. for we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain an suffering.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. Romans 8:19-23a, 26

Almighty God, to whom our needs are known before we ask: Help me to ask only what accords with your will; and those good things which I dare not, or in my blindness cannot ask, grant for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Anabaptist Ecclesiology

How would Anabaptists (Believer’s tradition) interpret 1 Timothy 3:15? My readings in McClendon lead me to believe that the Anabaptist view of “the church” in 1 Tim. 3:15 might go something like this. That is, “the church” primarily in the community of converts that gathers around Scripture, enlivened by the Holy Spirit for worship and witness.

Augsburger state it this way:

"To live in grace is to live in Christ and have the total of one’s life oriented around him rather than around oneself. This is not a primitivism, trying to reproduce the precise form of the first-century church. Instead, each of us should seek the primary experience of a relationship with the risen Christ. The book of Acts is not primarily a presentation of (vague) mystical experiences but a declaration that the risen Christ is continuing his work through the Holy Spirit.

We might coin the word primalism to label this quest for the primary experience of solidarity with Christ, of a life filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus we regard the church as a community of the reborn. People come to Christ in the personal experience of relationship with him, “born from above” and living in and by the Spirit (John 3:3-8)."
--Myron Augsburger, The Robe of God, 35

"Each of us should seek the primary experience of a relationship with the risen Christ." The question is, how does this not just veer off into a private, individualistic experience-based view of the Christian life. We experience Christ in the community of believers--the Church. So it is not as if my "personal" relationship with the risen Christ is primary, and the "communal" experience of the risen Christ (in the gathered worship, the rule and rhythm of life in community, the corporate witness) is secondary. That is where much of contemporary Evangelical Christianity has drifted (in my humble view). We have taken our cues from Modernity and made the individual the locus of the Christian enterprise.

Let me also bring McClendon into the conversation. In his volume, Doctrine, he says:

Not surprisingly, then, Christian history itself is replete with schemes that—though not consciously so intended—serve to limit or control this radically unsettling Book (the Bible). Three such schemes—(a) use of historical-critical exegesis in a way that keeps Scripture at a ‘suitably’ remote distance, (b) use of tradition so as to monopolize the interpretation of Scripture, and (c) use of inerrancy theories so as to confine the thrust of Scripture. (McClendon, Doctrine, 464)

And the whole force of Scripture’s truth rests upon just such a vision, just such a sense that this is that: You, now, in the Deuteronomist’s own generation—you are the generation of slaves freed by the Unnameable One. Personal gratitude evokes your obedience to this law. You were in Egypt. The story you are living out now is the story related in the text. History is real, history matters, exactly because in God’s mysterious way the past is present. So the church of the New Testament is the church now; time, though not abolished, is in this manner transcended, and the church that reclaims its past stands today before the great final Judge as well. “This is that” and “then is now.” Here is a mystical vision, mysterious exactly because it does not deny the facts of history but acknowledges them. Our study of the original setting does not cancel the vision but enhances its claim upon us. Christ-centered, this vision has formed Baptist life from before Anabaptist times to the present.

Enter now the Baptist vision. It tells us that this is that, that the story then is the story now; that the Jesus Christ who then rose, truly rose and appeared to the disciples in the breaking of bread is present now and does appear to us in our kingdom work and our spiritual worship, in our witness—and in this very word. It tells us the Gospel resurrection narratives both witness to what happened then and stake a claim on what happens now. It tells us his risen presence then coheres with his risen presence now; it is its determinative forerunner; it is its cause. It tells us his presence is the very matrix of the intelligibility of this word and of our world. It is under the hermeneutic of this vision that authentic scriptural authority appears.

This is helping develop my understanding of an Anabaptist ecclesiology. Brian McClaren drew on McClendon's theological views quite a bit in writing, "The Story We Find Ourselves In." This view is what I believe is referred to as narrative theology.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


One of the intriguing discussion points toward the end of last night's class was taken from the assigned reading of Takashi Yamada (a chapter in the book, Baptist Roots, see the side bar what I am reading). Yamada was a Japanese convert to Christianity through the work of Mennonite missions. During World War II, Yamada, a student in the Japanese Naval Academy, with his classmates was challenged to volunteer as a Kamikaze pilot--flying one desperate suicide flight to destroy an American naval vessel, by then on the attack. He refused the call--and survived the war. Later, while working for a trading company in Kobe, he was invited to attend a Mennonite mission Bible study. When the study progressed to Acts 2, Yamada and others in the class requested baptism and proposed starting a church; despite the missionaries' reluctance to move so fast, the church began. Yamada himself was baptized in 1952 and became a minister in 1956. He has taught at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, Elkhart, Indiana, has been a leader in world Mennonite activity, and serves as pastor of Kobayashi (Mennonite Church) Brotherhood.

That's some background. Now to the point of discussion that was drawn from our reading of his essay "Reconciliation in the Church." Yamada says in this chapter:

"Therefore we come to know that the living Christ is working as the creative Spirit who causes creative tensions in the fellowship, and stimulates the church to grow together. However, the living Christ is also the reconciling and healing Spirit working in the fellowship."

"Here and there in the New Testament we find amazing diversity, critical tensions caused by sharp contrasts and differences, and even some personal crushes in the Christian fellowship. But right there we see the living Christ of the church stimulating, reconciling and healing, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, in his church."

I am considering this idea that Yamada presents, that "the living Christ is working as the creative Spirit who causes creative tensions in the fellowship..." I'm not sure if I see the presence of tension and or/diverse perspectives in the fellowship as caused by the Spirit or by human elements/dynamics. I will have to think about this some more.

I raised the question if it is not rather, that the Spirit invites the members of the fellowship into honest, open conversation about differences and tensions. Is the role of the Spirit to shine the light on relational issues in light of the Gospel? Is not the role of the Spirit to bring about the unity in Christ that Jesus prayed for in John 17? I need to take a more careful look at Scripture to see how the Biblical text would support Yamada's idea.

Any responses?

Monday, February 06, 2006


Is not the dark, rich scent of brewing coffee one of the most sublime olfactory pleasures? Nothing like a cup of Lonely Monk coffee, the morning paper, and the quiet of pre-dawn winter mornings.

I did not always like coffee. I developed a taste for coffee in my early twenties. Working for D.D. Derstine insulation, we would make it a habit to stop in Souderton, at some deli, and pick up our coffees (two creams, two sugars) and a white-iced cinnamon donut. This was my entre into the coffee-drinking world. Nothing like the soothing warmth of the caffeinated beverage on a cold winter day that held the prospect of 9-10 hours working in frigid tempuratures. Days spent emptying bags of shredded, treated newspaper (with superior R-value to fiberglass and much more pleasant to work with) into the mixer that blew the gusting storm of paper and chemicals to their final destination in the walls of the house. On their way out the hose, they would pass through a spray on the end of the hose, thus helping them cake onto the wall between the studs. If a heater was running inside the house under construction, a welcome job was the shaving of the walls down to the studs, scooping up the excess insulation into barrels and hauling the once-used mix out to the truck to be recycled in with the dry product right out of the bags.

Then there were those times of being at table with my friends in Mexico, drinking café con leche, eating some pan dulce or tamales that had been purchased fresh from a street vendor. Esto es la riqueza que es beber café.

Super Bowl

Yeah Steelers!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Postmodern Emergent Church visit

Every now and then I pop in on the blogs of some of our brethren (brothers and sisters) from the emergent church movement. Tonight I paid a visit to the blog of Andrew Jones, a leader in the movement.

He writes:

Its about time. I can't tell you how frustrated our family has been in playing this pathetic game called Mega Church, having to create large Orthodox cathedrals and Pentecostal mega-church stage shows and overgrown, resource-hungry EvangeMega WillowBackySaddle OsteenyServices for annoying yuppies who complain about the temperature of the Starbucks before the service. My kids are just TOTALLY SICK of building massive parking lots for SUV driving Christians who destroy the environment every time they drive across the other side of their city just to attend a slicker church service.

I have been to a number of emergent events and have done some reading in that has been a part of the syllabus of this movement. I find their critique of Protestant Evangelicalism helpful and needed. Like this post by Andrew about the Megachurch game (What a bargain! For $40 I too can be like Joel Osteen). I had not heard of this game before.

However, I have seen aspects of the movement that indicate a reactionary impulse. Most movements begin this way. It remains to be seen how this movement will develop as it matures. It certainly brings a vibrant sense of the missional calling of Church.

Jesus' Prayer (John 17)

Myron Augsburger wrote a piece in the MWR (Dec. 5, 2005) entitled, In Praise of Christian diversity. He writes, "Mennonites have a subtle spirit of condescending exclusiveness. We tend to regard other Christians as inferior and miss out on an inclusiveness that could enrich us."

He goes on to say, "We do accept a limited measure of ecumenicity. We borrow a few patterns in worship and liturgy, but very selectively--accepting either what is too popular for us to miss or what we deem best suited to our spiritual formation."

Augsburger says, "We need an ecumenical spirit that is distinct from ecumenical organization."

I guess I would start there in my answer to your question. I am homesick for a view of the church that is inclusive--yet does not sacrifice a commitment to the Faith we have received. Like Paul, could we say, "that which I received I passed on to you." Or have we become too skeptical, too formed by Modern Enlightenment to be able to believe that the Scriptures and the worship of the Church are more than just something we make up, or interpret, or create as we see fit or as makes sense from our lens.

In my class Tuesday night, Brinton Rutherford noted that Christian theology of the classical era says, "God exists." God is the subject period. After the Englightenment, with the radical shift toward individualism, theology says, "I think God exists." "I" is the subject and God is the object. So we have moved from thinking of the architecture of Theology as Dogmatics, or even Systematic Theology. We see theology moving toward more of a "Constructive" formulation. We do theology (God words, God thoughts) from the bottom up, not from God down. We begin with our experience and try to explain God through that lens. We are skeptical of anything that begins with a foundation in revelation. Because of course the interpretation of that revelation depends on the perspective and experience of the individual.

This has been one huge sidebar to the question of "expressions of division." I believe that when Jesus was praying that we (the Church) would be one, just as the Father and he are one he meant a oneness that is deep and even spiritual grounded in wholeness and truth. I don't think Jesus was praying for a superficial oneness.

I write as one whose own views have shifted. Whereas at one time I would have looked with skepticism and eyes of superiority on believers outside of the Anabaptist/Evangelical/Charismatic stream... I have come to see that the Spirit of God is at work throughout the whole Church. My prayer is that we would work toward reconciliation, unity, and a true understanding of the Church.

In my own emerging theology, I sense a movement toward a more inclusive ecclesiology, that allows for the possibility that we (our church, our denomination, our historical stream) does not have the sum and total of truth and/or the way of faithful worship and witness. I pray that we could join our "distinctives" together with the whole and perhaps not even view them as "ours." Could we let go of the need to define ourselves as seperate from the whole, or distinct in some way. I know this is not possible outside of the working of the Holy Spirit, for history has created some real rifts and tensions that cannot be minimized. But could we allow ourselves to believe that the Holy Spirit is at work to bring about the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer that must be owned as the eschatalogical reality we are moving toward when all things will be brought together in Christ.

There are dialogues going on that are signs of hope. The dialogue between Anabaptists and Catholics. The dialogues between Anabaptists and Orthodoxy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholic Christians in Dialogue

I came across a wonderful statement that grew out of dialogue between Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholic Christians. The statement is the product of consultation, beginning in September 1992, between Evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians. It is wonderful to see the Body of Christ across the various traditions working to bring about the unity for which Jesus prayed: "My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father--that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me." (John 17:21)

Here are some of the tension points that arise in such a dialogue between divergent theological streams and traditions:

  • The church as an integral part of the Gospel or the church as a communal consequence of the Gospel.
  • The church as visible communion or invisible fellowship of true believers.
  • The sole authority of Scripture (sola scriptura) or Scripture as authoritatively interpreted in the church.
  • The "soul freedom" of the individual Christian or the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the community.
  • The church as local congregation or universal communion.
  • Ministry ordered in apostolic succession or the priesthood of all believers.
  • Sacraments and ordinances as symbols of grace or means of grace.
  • The Lord's Supper as eucharistic sacrifice or memorial meal.
  • Remembrance of Mary and the saints or devotion to Mary and the saints.
  • Baptism as sacrament of regeneration or testimony to regeneration.

I realize that Anabaptism would not fit tightly into the theological contours of Protestant Evangelicals. However, there is significant overlap, Anabaptist distinctives notwithstanding. I would observe that while there is much that is good in this statement, I miss the voice and perspective of Eastern Orthodoxy in the dialogue. I realize that participation in ecumenical dialogue is somewhat problematic for the Orthodox church. My heart grieves for expressions of division that do not enter into the fullness of Jesus' high priestly prayer.

During class (Conversations With Anabaptist Theology Today) last night, Brinton Rutherford referenced Myron Augsburger's perspective that one should be committed to a particular theological system in order to engage with other traditions across the body of Christ. I guess that is one of the tension points in my journey. How can I be enriched by that which is True (or central to the Gospel) in other theological traditions? How can I enter into the unity that Jesus prayed would be expressed in the Church. In each of the tension points named above...must I choose between one side or the other? Is that what Augsburger means by being committed to a particular theological stream?

I had a thought while singing a particular worship song on Sunday morning at SMC. The song was "You are Worthy" sung by Michael W. Smith. The song is unique in that men sing one set of lyrics and notes and women sing another set of lyrics and notes. Both sing at the same time. The result is both musical harmony and lyrical harmony (complementarity). I wondered if that might be what unity in the Church might be like. We do not see unity that is expressed institutionally across theological traditions. But is it possible that we are singing divergent words in our worship and witness that are complementary and producing a greater harmony?

Am I being unfaithful to my own tradition (Anabaptist) if I embrace practices that are not a part of my theological stream? What is acceptable and what goes to far in the view of my own ecclesial community? Many in the Mennonite Church have embraced much from other streams that is not at the core of (and one could argue at points is a departure from) core Anabaptist theology. We see this in the embrace of everything from worship music, to ministry models, to curriculum for Christian Education, to popular teachers from the broader stream of contemporary Evangelicalism. I don't think I need to give specific examples.

So it is okay to put a fish on our vehicles--a symbol from the early church, but we are uncomfortable with the practice of making the sign of the cross--also a symbol from the early church.


Lord, let our memory provide no shelter for grievance against each other.

Lord, let our heart provide no harbour for hatred of each other.

Lord, let our tongue be no accomplice in the judgement of each other.